Zero Calorie Slushy

In the Weight Watchers world, fruit is zero points. This recipe with diet soda and fruit is considered 0 WW Points. It makes two serving so if you aren’t sharing, note the banana taste will be stronger after refrigerated. It made me think of my grandma because she always had Diet 7-UP in her house. You were always welcome to them but you had to drink a whole can or take it home with you.

Zero Point SlushyZero Calorie Slushy from Stiletto and Legos.com
1 c. banana (2 bananas)
1 c. strawberries
6 oz. Diet 7-UP
1 c. ice

Crush ice. Add fruit and 7-Up. Blend. Makes four cups – two serves.

Note: Strawberries are out of season I used frozen fruit. It worked just fine.

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Goodbye 2013

Looking back at 2013, I thought I would share a few of my favorite new recipes. In no particular order, here are my top 13:
Breakfast QuicheBreakfast recipes:

Dinner recipes:

Dessert recipes:

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

When I think of rhubarb, I think of the house I grew up in. Behind our house in Wisner, my parents had a rhubarb patch and apple tree. Unfortunately, our tree was struck by lightning so the apples it produced were not edible. I remember my mother sending me out in the summer time to pull rhubarb for recipes she would make. The recipe I remember the most was a coffee cake.

When we moved to Wayne, my Grandma Fletcher helped me plant a garden our first year. When we started, the only thing in the garden was rhubarb and Morning Glory flowers growing up the vine. I really wanted strawberries and pumpkins. I learned a few very important lessons. 1) I don’t have a green thumb. 2) You can’t grow strawberries right away. 3) Pumpkins take over and spread everywhere. My great uncle Bob would often come over and take our rhubarb to make jam. The blessing of course is that he would share it with us for providing the rhubarb.

As an adult, I occasionally find recipes I want to make with rhubarb. My dear friend Chuck even has a whole recipe book with just rhubarb recipes. A few months ago, I noticed they sold it in the freezer section at Hy-Vee. I picked up some rhubarb in hopes of making a few of those recipes.

During a recent trip to visit my family, my sister had the television on The Food Network. The Barefoot Contessa was making a Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp. It looked so good I decided to make it a few days ago. I wish I could capture the smell of this amazing recipe straight from the oven to share with you through my blog. I guess this beautiful picture will have to do until you cook it for yourself.

Strawberry Rhubarb CrispStrawberry Rhubarb Crisp by The Barefoot Contessa
4 c. rhubarb, chopped
4 c. strawberries, chopped
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. orange zest
1 t. cornstarch
1/2 c. orange juice
1 c. flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. oatmeal
12 T. (1 and 1/2 sticks butter), chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix rhubarb and strawberries with 3/4 c. sugar. Add orange zest. Dissolve cornstarch in orange juice. Pour into large baking dish (2 qt. oblong). Mix flour, salt, brown sugar, remaining granulated sugar, and oatmeal together. Mix in cubed butter. Sprinkle onto of fruit. Bake for 1 hour.

(Please note – I cut the recipe in half.)

Crepes

Last week, I was helping my undergraduate alma mater recruit students. Talking about the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with students reminded me of my college days. I was what you would call a residence hall geek. As a member of the National Residence Hall Honorary, I must educate you never to use the word “dorm”.

During my college days, I served on the Residence Hall Association, acted as a summer conference assistant, worked at the front desk for Harper-Schramm-Smith, cleaned windows for maintenance, and even did kitchen prep work in the dining halls one summer. As a resident hall student, I think breakfast was my favorite meal. I would get up at 7AM, pick-up a Daily Nebraskan, and head up for breakfast before my 8:30 class. One of my favorite breakfast recipes they served was Strawberry Crepes. Until now, I have never cooked crepes myself. I’m so bad at flipping pancakes that I made my mother buy me for Christmas one year a pancake cooker (like a waffle maker) that doesn’t make you flip them.

While hosting a Wildtree fundraiser for work last summer, I decided to buy a mix to make crepes. Recently, I printed off a recipe for Spiced Crepes with Strawberry Filling from Betty Crocker’s website. After my reminiscing about my college days, I decided to finally make this recipe – substituting the Wildtree mix for the Betty Crocker crepes recipe. I have to tell you, they tasted just as good as I remember.

100_0933Spiced Crepes with Strawberry Filling by Betty Crocker

Crepes
3/4 c. instant flour
1 T. sugar
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. salt
1 c. milk
3 eggs
3 T. butter, melted and cooled
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vegetable oil

Filling
2 T. butter
2 & 1/2 c. strawberry halves
2 T. packed brown sugar
2 T. orange juice
1 T. red wine or balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
Dash of salt

Topping
2 T. powder sugar

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, nutmeg, and salt. In another bowl, beat together milk, eggs, butter, and almond extract with a wire whisk. Pour into center of dry ingredients and mix together. Pour about 1 T. oil into 6-8 in skillet and heat on a medium heat. Wipe out when hot and add 3 T. of batter. Swirl in pan and even out batter. Cook 30 seconds, flip, and cook 30 seconds more. Place cooked crepes on a plate seperating with waxed paper. When you have finished with crepes, move onto filling.

In a 10 inch skillet, melt 2 T. butter over a medium heat. Add strawberries and brown sugar. Cook until they start getting soft. Then, add orange juice, vinegar, vanilla, and salt. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Add 2 T. of strawberry filling to the inside of each crepe. Roll up and drizzle with a little more strawberry sauce. Top with powdered sugar.

Nutritional Information: (Makes six servings – two crepes per serving) 270 calories (130 calories from fat), 14 g. fat (6 g. saturated fat, 1/2 g. trans fat), 135 mg. cholesterol, 220 mg. sodium, 29 g. carbs, 2 g. fiber, 16 g. sugar, and 7 g. protein.

Notes:

  • This recipe does take about an hour from start to finish. I did the prep work on my strawberries before I made the crepes to literally go straight from cooking crepes to making filling.
  • The Wildtree recipe for crepes is easier and healthier. Just add water to mix and whisk. The first couple weren’t pretty but they got better the hotter the pan was. I also used a touch of butter instead of oil between cooking each crepe.
  • I used red wine vinegar in my filling. The might help with the smell when you first heat vinegar.
  • I used fat free Cool Whip instead of powdered sugar on my crepes.

Strawberry Soup

The very first year I worked at SAFEHOME, we moved our gala fundraiser to the Doubletree. In lieu of salad, we started the June Jubilee with a cold Strawberry Soup. As someone who is anti-veggie, you know how excited I was and I had nothing to do with the taste panel. Some guests refused to eat it because they didn’t know what it was. I liked it so much I started looking for Strawberry Soup recipes. I’ve made a few over the years. This recipe I tried for the first time a few weeks ago and I really liked it. Just blend, chill, and serve.

Summer Strawberry Soup by Verna Bollin

2 lbs. strawberries, diced into 8 cups
1/2 c. Orange juice
2 c. vanilla yogurt (I used fat-free)
1/2 c. sugar

Mix all ingredients in a blender. Once smooth, put in the fridge for at least 2 hours to chill. You may garnish with fresh mint and yogurt.

Nutrition Facts: (Makes six 1 cup servings.) 204 calories, 3 g. fat, 2 g. saturated fat, 8 mg. cholesterol, 54 mg. sodium, 41 g. carbs, 3 g. fiber, and 5 g. protein. 

Crunchy Parfait

I don’t know if any of you shop at Hen House. Although it isn’t where I buy the majority of my groceries, they sometimes have really great deals in their ads. Plus, they double coupons of $.50 or less. In the front of their store, they sometimes have special inserts with coupons and recipes. I got this recipe from one of their inserts promoting General Mills products. I thought this recipe was pretty good so I decided to share it. With low fat yogurt, this is a healthy breakfast or afternoon snack.

Crunchy-Topped Strawberry-Kiwi Parfaits
1/2 c. Banana Cheerios

1 T. almonds
3 oz. of low fat vanilla or peach yogurt
1 large strawberry, chopped
½ a kiwi, chopped

Bake the almonds and Cheerios at 350 degrees for 6-10 minutes. Let cool. Layer yogurt, strawberries, kiwi, and Cheerios mix. Repeat layering. Serve immediately.

Recipe modifications:

  • I only had Honey Nut Cheerios so I used those.
  • I omitted the almonds.
  • I used vanilla yogurt when I made it.

Neapolitan Cupcake

When I was a kid, I remember my Grandma Fletcher always had this frosted glass egg shaped candy dish on her coffee table. Back in those days, you could buy Brach’s Pick-A-Mix candy by the pound at Pamida or the grocery store. Grandma loved those orange peanuts, butterscotch disk, and those flavored caramel/toffee chews the most. But sometimes, Grandma would scoop an assortment of Brach’s candy which might include the Neapolitan chew.

The Monday after the Super Bowl, one of my co-workers was telling me about this amazing cupcake she had tried at a friend’s Super Bowl party. She had found the recipe on Pinterest. It was a brownie base with strawberry cake topped with butter cream icing. Theresa got me the recipe so I made them. I didn’t love them the way she did so I was worried I had cooked them wrong. Theresa tired my cupcakes and said they were great. Although this isn’t my favorite dessert recipe, I think you might really like this if you loved that classic Neapolitan candy as a kid.

Neapolitan Cupcakes

1 box of brownie mix
1 box of strawberry cake mix
1 can of butter cream frosting

 Mix brownie according to box directions. Fill muffin cups half full. In a separate bowl, mix cake mix according to instructions. Spoon cake mix onto of brownie mix. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool and top with frosting.

Fresh Berries

I love fresh fruit. I probably always have. As a kid, I ate a lot of apples and oranges. But today, fresh strawberries are my favorite.

I am usually a little apprehensive about by strawberries this time of year. At Valentine’s Day, I spotted some in the market that looked good. I remind myself of the time Grandma Fletcher and I bought fresh strawberries from a roadside vender in Yuma, AZ this time of year. I took a chance and bought them. The berries were the perfect amount of sweet.

Although I enjoy strawberries plain, I also like to cook with them. Today’s recipe I believe comes from an old Taste of Home magazine. I can’t remember if it was Simple and Delicious or Cooking for Two. I hope you love this recipe as much as my sister and I do.

Strawberry Cheese Rolls

1 pkg. Crescent Rolls
4 oz. Cream Cheese
2 T. Sugar
1/2 cup Fresh Strawberries, cut

Unroll four rectangles. Mix cream cheese and sugar. Spread on rolls. Top with berries. Bake at 375 degrees for 11 to 13 minutes.

Notes:

  • I like to keep my berries fresh in a Tupperware FridgeSmart containers. They are totally worth the investment because they keep your fruits and veggie from getting hard and moldy.
  • I usually store the leftovers of this recipe in the fridge and warm up in the microwave before serving.
  • You can also substitute fresh blueberries in the recipe.

Minor steps

A few weeks ago, I wrote in my blog about how I final made my way back to the gym. I am happy to report I have made it every weekday for the past two weeks. Most days, I set my alarm clock for 6:30AM. Heading to bed earlier, I usually find myself awake before the alarm goes off. I’m not going to lie, that doesn’t always mean I don’t hit the snooze button at least once.

Most mornings, I try to do 30 minutes on the treadmill and about 20 minutes of weights. This past week, I was really swamped with work. I had the debate – “Do I get up early and start working or do I go to the gym?” I’m really proud of myself because I finally figured out how to take care of my health and still get my work done. I set my alarm close anywhere from 30-45 minutes earlier. I cut out the weights but still got in 30 minutes of cardio walking. And the best news, I got everything done at work too.

The other day, I noticed my t-shirt was a little looser when I pulled it over my hips. I have never been one to weigh myself because I often get frustrated with the lack of weight loss. And hearing words from others like, “You are gaining muscle, it weighs more than fat” doesn’t seem to help. But I can tell I feel better after my morning workout. I also noticed I seem to have a lot more energy throughout the day. I even enjoy reading the closed captioning version of 41 Action News while listening to power music mix.

It occurred to me this morning that I have been working out for 12 days. At 1.77 miles per day, I have walked over 21 miles in the last two weeks that I otherwise would not have done. I was really proud of myself.

Recently, I made this salmon dish for dinner. I remembered that a portion of meat isn’t supposed to be any bigger than the palm of your hand. For this reason, I cut the slice of meat in half creating twice as many meals. Plus, salmon is “super food”. This healthy meat is loaded with omega-3 and monounsaturated fat. These combinations are good for lowering your risk of heart disease, arthritis, and lowering cholesterol. Plus, they think salmon is good at helping prevent memory loss.

I hope you like this dish as much as I did the first time I prepared it for dinner. It is helping me get ready to participate in the Diva Dash 5K with my co-workers and volunteers on March 24th.

Baked Strawberry Salmon by Taste of Home

¾ c. soy sauce (I used the low sodium version)
2 T. lemon juice
1 T. Dijon mustard (I used Honey Dijon)
¼ tsp. pepper
4 salmon fillets (6 oz. each), skin removed
2/3 c. strawberry preserves

In a large baggie, combine soy sauce, lemon juice, mustard, and pepper. Add salmon. Turn to coat meat. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to marinade.

Discard marinade. Place salmon on foil coated dish. Spoon preserves over and bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Notes:

  • I brought frozen salmon filets at Sam’s Club. Much cheaper per piece and they thaw in the fridge overnight. I also noticed they are on sale at Super Target this week for an even cheaper price.
  • I halved this recipe. Cutting into 3 oz. pieces of meat I still got four servings.
  • I served this with a serving of Thai Jasmine Rice. Fresh green beans or a romaine salad would also be delicious with this fish.
  • I really like Grandmother’s Pantry jams. They are a local company who prepare their jams at home so you’ll have to look for them at events like the Craft Patch craft shows. They don’t add sugar to their jams so they are great for diabetics like my grandparents.